KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms
& the Music of New Orleans


Enjoy a special two hour audio documentary, hosted by Haitian-American and New Orleans based artist and musician, Leyla McCalla, a founding member of Our Native Daughters & alumna of the GRAMMY award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops.




HOUR ONE

In order to understand the deep connections and musical relationship between Haiti and New Orleans, we must go back to the beginning. This hour explores before Haiti was Haiti, when the island was a French colony called Saint Domingue, prized for its money-making prowess from its sugar and coffee crops. Sugar was extremely lucrative, but its production was punishing. In order to maximize profits, the Colonists' economic model was to work slaves literally to death and then replace them with newly enslaved Africans. These conditions: enforced, brutal slave labor by a recently enslaved population, in an era alive with revolutionary ideas, eventually yielded just that: a revolution. 





HOUR TWO

Music is a form of prayer in New Orleans and across the sea in Haiti. It connects the living and the dead, the present with the past.  This hour explores the musical connections between NOLA and Haiti. Every year, in February and March, people all over the Western Hemisphere gather together to sing, dance, parade, and celebrate Carnival. The most famous Carnival celebration in the United States is New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. In Haiti, Kanaval is a profoundly significant event that brings together music, politics, and the dreams and demands of the Haitian people.

Although each place has distinct traditions, soundscapes, and cultural histories, there are also undeniable spiritual and physical connections that bond Haiti and New Orleans. Particularly through music, the people of these places find ways to navigate this chaotic and messy world. 



KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms
& the Music of New Orleans


Enjoy a special two hour audio documentary, hosted by Haitian-American and New Orleans based artist and musician, Leyla McCalla, a founding member of Our Native Daughters & alumna of the GRAMMY award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops.





HOUR ONE

In order to understand the deep connections and musical relationship between Haiti and New Orleans, we must go back to the beginning. This hour explores before Haiti was Haiti, when the island was a French colony called Saint Domingue, prized for its money-making prowess from its sugar and coffee crops. Sugar was extremely lucrative, but its production was punishing. In order to maximize profits, the Colonists' economic model was to work slaves literally to death and then replace them with newly enslaved Africans. These conditions: enforced, brutal slave labor by a recently enslaved population, in an era alive with revolutionary ideas, eventually yielded just that: a revolution. 





HOUR TWO

Music is a form of prayer in New Orleans and across the sea in Haiti. It connects the living and the dead, the present with the past.  This hour explores the musical connections between NOLA and Haiti. Every year, in February and March, people all over the Western Hemisphere gather together to sing, dance, parade, and celebrate Carnival. The most famous Carnival celebration in the United States is New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. In Haiti, Kanaval is a profoundly significant event that brings together music, politics, and the dreams and demands of the Haitian people.

Although each place has distinct traditions, soundscapes, and cultural histories, there are also undeniable spiritual and physical connections that bond Haiti and New Orleans. Particularly through music, the people of these places find ways to navigate this chaotic and messy world. 


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Documentary Information

From WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the producers of the Peabody-nominated and Regional Edward R. Murrow award-winning Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul, comes a new audio docu-series chronicling the history of Haiti and Haitian influences on the music, culture, and community of New Orleans and contextualizing the nation’s historical importance through its considerable artistic and musical traditions.

Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms & the Music of New Orleans is a three hour documentary hosted by Haitian-American and New Orleans based artist and musician, Leyla McCalla, a founding member of Our Native Daughters & alumna of the GRAMMY award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Leyla’s work unearthing history and musical tradition, combined with her knowledge of cultural hybridization and her own identity as a Haitian-American have given her a unique voice and perspective. Her music reflects her eclectic and diverse life experiences, projecting respect for eloquent simplicity that is rarely achieved.

Leyla’s current project, Breaking the Thermometer to Hide the Fever, tells the legacy of Radio Haiti, Haiti’s first privately owned Creole-speaking radio station, and the assassination of its owner through Leyla’s own Haitian-American lens. The multidisciplinary performance, featuring her original compositions and arrangements of traditional Haitian songs and premiered in March 2020 at Duke University and will be presented in Philadelphia as part of the Kanaval project.


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